Dan Burrows

Executive Transformation Consultant Strategic Lead: Manufacturing

My first experiences of IT weren’t exciting. At least I’m not sure ‘typing 200 lines of BASIC on a ZX Spectrum keyboard’ can be called that. What happened next was an improvement. I can’t remember exactly what happened on the screen, but I was, I’m sure, impressed. I no longer have the need, time, or enthusiasm to write code, but that first experience set me off on a path, which I’m still stumbling along over thirty years later.

Computer games were my introduction to the one thing I desperately wanted to do when I ‘grew up’ – something I’m still not sure I’ve put to bed – flying fast-jets for the RAF. A copy of LucasFilm’s ‘Their Finest Hour: The Battle of Britain’, which came with a manual including a fascinating, surprisingly historically-accurate, account of events in 1939-40 was to blame. How I longed to follow in the footsteps of the aces… right up until, around 11 years old, I was told I needed glasses to see the board from the back of the room if I wanted my French teacher ever to take me seriously again.

My dream dashed, when I left school I didn’t really know what to do. I was pretty good ‘at computers’ though, so Computing Science it was, at Newcastle University. A year later, I was back at home after one of the most fun, expensive, years of my life; faced with the realisation that programming wasn’t for me. The sensible course of action was to go out and get a job, which I did, as a programmer. Epic fail.

Several other jobs, including hands-on support, leading a support team, managing a technical services department and managing a regional operation followed, during which time I moved to the North East from Suffolk. A five-year spell working as a senior manager within an NHS-affiliated organisation followed, during which time I married my wife Hayley (she’d say it was about time, after 7 years and one life-changing move for us). I had learned a lot about people, healthcare, the public sector, business, and the strain of spending three hours a day on the A1 near Newcastle.

So, one October morning in 2008, I walked into the Waterstons family (not literally, obviously) and what has been my day-to-day world ever since. I’ve become even more passionate about improving businesses, through better use of technology, people and process and I’ve learned a lot. I work with people who are great at what they do and, surprisingly, I find I quite like getting up in the morning.

I’ve been lucky to work on some great projects, and I’ve had the opportunity to enthuse about things I find interesting like manufacturing and engineering. Highlights have been working with an airport, an oil and chemical storage group, and a snack manufacturer (although with a severe allergy I may not have been the natural choice to go to work at a nut processing plant). I’m looking forward to plenty more of the same (not the nuts, though).

When I’m not at work, I’ll be far away from computers, usually doing something with spanners to one of the many cars, motorbikes and vans I look after – my ‘other job’. In my ‘free’ time, I’ll likely be out and about on my motorcycle – a BMW S1000RR which deserves a much better rider than me – cooking, or spending time with my wife, in a field, in our motorhome.

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